Social media has been a gift and a curse to us. We can connect like never before. We can also make demands of companies that didn't consider us a target demographic.
When I was growing up my dolls were all white. Not because my mom had a self-hate complex, but because that's all Mattel sold. Eventually, Barbie came to have a black friend named Christie and a Latina friend named Teresa. Finding a Cabbage Patch Doll that looked like me was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Fast forward to today. Mattel (due to demand from consumers) created a special edition Ava DuVernay doll. It sold out in 15 minutes. I saw coverage about this on every possible mainstream media outlet. What did that tell me? That our voices mean things when we use them. That the almighty dollar trumps the "target market." That people were so surprised and jumped on reporting it also showed just how clueless society is about black people.
We create BET, Blavity and 'The Wiz Live!' not to be racist, but because we crave to see ourselves in the light we know we live in. We are joyful, creative, amazingly talented and funny people. We're rarely given a fair opportunity to show it, so instead, we take it. We will make a dollar out of 15 cents. We will take the scraps of the animal and make a culinary delight. We have a strength that can move mountains and birth movements.
Serena Williams wins sportsperson of the year and people are mad. Rue in The Hunger Games is black (per the book) and people are really mad. There are black stars in Star Wars and well... we all know how that went. But it's more than that. When kids are sent home from school for celebrating themselves, when rapes are targeted and ignored, when mysterious deaths are stranger than fiction, when hashtags aren't enough — black girls and women have to push through so much.
#BlackGirlMagic is for every little girl who believes she can become a doctor because of cartoons like Doc McStuffins. It's for the little girl in Compton who sees the Williams sisters and knows she can make it out of the hood. It's for every Shonda and Ava, there are screenwriters and directors who SEE that they can bring their words to life.
#BlackGirlMagic isn’t about dehumanizing black women, who are called upon time and time again to exercise super-human strength and ridiculous levels of forgiveness in the face of every "-ism" in the book. It’s for every girl who needs #YouOkSis when she’s harassed on the street. It's for the young women who are accused of being ##FastTailedGirls. #BlackGirlMagic wasn’t what killed Sandra Bland, it’s what got her name out there in the first place. #BlackGirlMagic wasn’t what put Marissa Alexander in prison, it’s what eventually got her out. We lift up ourselves when no one else will do it for us. Because we must. For us now, and for the girls of the future. #BlackGirlMagic doesn’t have to be liked or embraced by everyone, but to strip it down and take it out of context does EXACTLY the opposite of what its goal and intention is: to uplift and to encourage. There IS no #BlackLivesMatter without black girls and women having a network of love and support.
RT @AlnzoXX: black girls, that love being black girls a little too much, irk me. pic.twitter.com/mdIVghM4gq — Shani, B. (@melanaire_) July 18, 2015
But still, why magic? Because what else do you call it when you live in a place that devalues your very existence but still manage to rise? How else do you explain the grace of our elders — our aunties, our grannies — despite all they've been through and seen in their lifetimes? Who else can weather the storms from outside and within and age like we do?
Ain't no fairy dust here, just some good ol' #BlackGirlMagic.